Cat Fancy

How one finicky feline changed my household’s climate — and my nightly routine


So it’s come to this. My life has changed in a way I never would have imagined. You know, I had big dreams for my limited time here on earth. I was going to be amazing. I didn’t think I would be changing-the-world amazing, but at the very least, I wanted to be one of those people that has a wow factor. 

   I never — like never, ever, ever in my wildest dreams — imagined I would be spending a portion of every evening walking a kitty cat on a leash. Yep, I’m now a crazy cat lady, which, I have to stress, I was forced into under duress. 

   Full disclosure: I’m not a cat person. The last time I lived with a cat I was 9. I have always been a dog lover. I’m all about dogs. I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like. Dogs are everything that’s good about this world. They worship you. They’re always excited to see you. They love hard.

   Cats, on the other hand, are… um, none of those things. A cat, or more specifically, the cat that I have now taken into my home, Max, a Russian Blue, thinks he’s far too superior to show me even the slightest smidgen of approval. I have a cat that believes he’s way too good for me.

    This is a problem. I live with teenagers, specifically, a female teenager, and I don’t need any more attitude in my home. Furthermore, I don’t need a cat judging me. And who does this cat think he is? He came from a small, dirty, — OK maybe not dirty, but certainly not a tidy apartment — that had the permeating odor of boy feet in Lawrence. Trust me, the cat’s new digs are a significant upgrade. 

   How do I know so much about the cat’s previous home life, you ask? Let me answer that for you. The snooty cat is my son’s. My son is now working in Ireland, so yes, you guessed it, I will have this cat till death do us part.

   I was very hesitant about this new family member. We already have two dogs. I was worried that our dogs would be ready to rumble. I was most worried about our Bichon, Gracie, because that dog is my baby.  I have been accused by my family of loving Gracie more than anyone else. All I have to say to that is, yes, you are correct. Gracie is my favorite family member — hands down. I wish I were ashamed to admit that, but it is what it is. The dog is perfection.

   Our other dog, Tahoe, is a beagle, whom I also love, but truth be told, he’s in a pretty serious bromance with my husband. I was certain he could handle a cat. The way I saw it, the beagle would maintain his dominance in the household and continue running a tight ship. 

   I’m now chagrined to admit that my dogs, in minutes, perhaps not even 60 seconds, literally rolled over and let the cat take charge. It was a harsh embarrassment to the entire canine species. The cat, after subduing the dogs by merely extending his paw, marched to the top of the stairs, surveyed his new empire and with a solid “meow” pronounced it lacking.

   This led to me entering a troubled time in my life. I began trying to impress a cat. What was wrong with me? It was if I were back in middle school yearning to sit at the cool kids’ lunch table. For some reason, I needed this cat to like me, but he would have none of it.

   He was full of himself. For sure, Max has it all. He’s super handsome, athletic and not the least bit humble. Basically, he’s the Tom Brady of cats. He struts around the house and swishes his tail as if he’s saying, “You’re not worthy of my awesomeness.” 

   He also talks a lot. That’s another thing I don’t need: another family member that’s not shy to share their opinion. It’s meow this and meow that. I took him to the vet to make sure he was OK, and the vet said Max was great and that his “chattiness” was a “sign of intelligence.”  

   Duh, I know he’s smart, but he’s also, dare I say, snarky? I put on a new outfit, and he stared at me, meowed and then gave me a combo head and tail flip and strutted away. The cat was “fashion policing” me. I looked in the mirror and thought maybe he was onto something and changed. (I mean, the pants did have a horizontal stripe, not exactly the most slimming of looks.)

   In my continued effort to woo Max, I found myself outside a pet store at 9:55 a.m. on a Monday morning waiting for it to open. Standing outside the doors were three other women — all cat aficionados. They were enthusiastically talking about a new kind of feline food. I introduced myself as a novice owner and was eagerly welcomed into the sisterhood of the crazy cat ladies.

   Here I didn’t feel ashamed admitting that I was fervently trying to get my cat to like me. They totally understood and with a kindness usually reserved for someone who works with the mentally fragile, these women ever so gently explained that my cat would never “lower itself to abject human adoration.”

   Bottom line? I would always be trying to please my cat. 

   They continued by sharing that I was using dog sensibilities on a cat, and that’s just a “no can do” because in their words, “cats are smarter than dogs” and need to be “respected and revered.”

   After that, I was grilled about my cat, and it was determined, by a unanimous group consensus, that my Max needed to be walked. And this is how I ended up with a top-of-the-line, padded-for-extra-comfort “Come With Me Kitty” leash and harness.

   To say I was scared about putting Max in a harness would be a grave understatement. This cat puts on airs, and I was almost certain he would think a harness was not up to his standards of deportment. I was also afraid he would show his displeasure by the giving me the cat finger — the extended claw.

   I was extremely surprised when he didn’t resist the harnesses, but then again I did pay top dollar for it, and it was a fetching shade of blue. When I hooked on the leash, I got an over-the-shoulder look that said, “Let’s roll, woman.”

   And roll we did — all over the neighborhood. The cat enjoys promenading like a royal inspecting his kingdom. Sadly, no one else in my family will walk with me because it “certifies that I’m a crazy cat lady.”

   Really? Will someone please explain to me how people who have a wardrobe for their dogs so extensive that it requires two closets, dress up their fur babies in holiday-themed attire, paint their canine’s nails, color their pooch’s hair, and push their puppies in strollers are called dog lovers and yet a woman who is simply walking her cat is crazy?

   I sense a little pet discrimination going on. And just for the record, I’m not crazy. OK, yeah, I’m crazy. I’m going to own it. But I’m not cat crazy. To be more specific, I’m dog and cat crazy, and if that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.